June 1, 2010 — Whether working by candlelight during a hurricane, leading Rolling Stones fans to the ticket website or shepherding a high-priority project like the University of Virginia's presidential search committee, Debbie Rinker, administrative staff assistant to Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Leonard W. Sandridge, puts her skill and passion into all aspects of her job.
For 16 years, her efforts have been focused "110 percent on doing what is in the best interest of the University," her colleagues and supervisors wrote in nominating her for a Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contributor Award, renamed this year for her boss.
Rinker's co-workers and the administrators she has served rave about the trust and respect she has earned.
"It is not just what Debbie does, it's how she does it," wrote Sandridge and her office mates, Kathleen Jump, Megan Lowe and Tammy Wilkins.
"She is amazingly adept in the human and technical elements of troubleshooting. ... Her standards for excellence and her years of expertise enable her to help her colleagues do their best job and deliver the best possible result. She is the consummate team player who is most happy when everyone is successful," her colleagues wrote.
When tickets went on sale for the 2005 Rolling Stones concert in Scott Stadium, some calls found their way to Sandridge's office, and ultimately Rinker's phone.
"Debbie walked each person through the process of accessing the website, and she remained on the phone with them as long as they needed assistance," her colleagues wrote. "In the same vein, Debbie will doggedly pursue answers to questions from colleagues or persons outside the office, often contacting multiple other offices, Internet sites or wherever she needs to go for information. She always does this cheerfully and with great fervor."
Rinker's fervor was undaunted when Hurricane Isabel hit the area hard in 2003. She spent the night in Madison Hall, working by candlelight, taking phone calls and even mopping flooded floors in the basement.
As the Board of Visitors began the six-month search for a new University president last summer, the search committee chairman and University rector, John O. Wynne, said he was looking for someone "who could provide confidential, reliable, informative and skillful assistance." Rinker was selected.
"Debbie found herself at the nexus of the search staff, the chair, the committee and the University community. Through our months of hard work, she never lost her cool and never let up the pace or the quality of her efforts," Wynne said.
"Debra Rinker is a shining example," Wynne wrote, "of the staff who support this University's every effort, including high-profile and high-priority projects that quite literally influence decisions and decision-makers at the highest levels."